SHE Level 3
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code M3F424479
Module Leader Calum Morrison
School School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment
Subject Chemical Science
  • B (January start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

M2F121837 Organic Chemistry 1, M2F124501 Chemical Analysis.

Summary of Content

The module provides knowledge and expertise of the application of analytical methods to forensic analysis and provides the appropriate background chemistry and toxicology on the types of analyte to be encountered.


Safety and Risk Assessment in Forensic Analysis. The importance of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. The COSHH Regulations. Consideration of the risk assessment and safety management in the laboratory environment, in field work and at the crime scene. Introduction to Toxicology. Fundamental principles and modes of action of toxicants. Perception of relative risks of xenobiotics, anthropogenic substances and other health related circumstances. Environmental aspects of toxicology. The Sample and Sample Provenance. Use of the sample context and background information to provide the basis for investigation. Sample identification and trace-ability. The principles of sampling. General Chemical Analysis of Samples. Sample clean up. Simple methods of sample classification followed by spectroscopic and chromatographic analysis, e.g. AAS, ICP, FTIR, GC-FID, HPLC, GC-MS. Substances of Abuse. Alkaloids, opiates, stimulants (e.g. amphetamines, cocaine), sedative-hypnotics (e.g. barbiturates, benzodiazepines), anabolic steroids, cannabinoids, phencyclidine, hallucinogens, alcohols, inhalants, and nerve agents. Legal aspects:-evidence presentation, expert witness criteria, Locard Principle, schedule and classes of substances of abuse. Reporting the Results of Analysis. Report writing. Oral presentation. Giving evidence. Case studies in Forensic Analysis. Examples will be taken from typical forensic analysis problems encountered in practice. N.B. The syllabus consists of a list of topics normally covered within the module. Each topic may not be dealt with in the same detail.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module the student should be able to:1. carry out forensic analysis work safely and within the law;2. demonstrate an understanding of the significance of the provenance of the sample and the identification and traceability of the sample throughout the analysis;3. demonstrate an understanding of the background issues, such as the environment and toxicological aspects;4. select the appropriate analytical techniques for the sample, making full use of the context in which the sample was found and its chemical nature;5. demonstrate an understanding of the implications, limitations and range of validity of the analysis;6. report the analysis and present the results as credible evidence.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

This module will be taught by an integrated package of lectures reinforced by practical work and tutorials. Students will study and solve real world forensic analysis problems encouraging divergent thinking and broader, deeper learning. Students will take part in practical laboratory work which will enhance data acquisition and manipulation skills for a forensic crime investigation, individual and group working skills, technical report writing skills and communication skills in general. The case study in particular combines group work with a focuses on a particular environmental forensic type exercise in an industrial setting. Use of state of the art equipment will enhance their employability. Through the use of the managed learning environment GCU Learn, students will become more engaged, flexible and independent in their learning as there will be a wide range of learning resources available on line. In addition to the core module content, links to relevant external application notes and videos from sources around the world will be made available. Students will receive individualised feedback on their performance through one-to-one contact with tutors at tutorials and through the timely return of marked coursework, which will reinforce the students' learning.

Indicative Reading

1 Crime Scene to Court, The Essentials of Forensic Science, ed. Peter White, The Royal Society of Chemistry 3rd Edition ISBN:-13:-9781847558824, 2010 2 The Misuse of Drugs Act, A Guide for Forensic Scientists, L.A. King, The Royal Society of Chemistry ISBN:-13: - 9780854046256, 3 Toxicology, a Case-Oriented Approach, John Joseph Fenton, CRC Press ISBN:- 0-8493-0371-0, 2002. This is an e-book in the library. 4 The Analysis of Controlled Substances, Michael D. Cole, Wiley, ISBN:- 0-471-49253-1, 2003. 5 Handbook of Forensic Drug Analysis, Fred Smith, Academic Press, 2004 ISBN - 13: - 9780126506419 6 Environmental Chemistry, 10th edition, Stanley E Manahan, Blackwell, 2017, ISBN-10:- 1498776930

Transferrable Skills

The students will enhance their problem solving and deductive skills in dealing with a variety of substances which they are required to identify and, in some cases, quantify. This process will additionally reinforce their practical manipulative skills. The case study will bring together theoretical, practical and deductive skills and will be an excellent preparation for the Forensic Project in the Honours year.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Independent Learning (FT) 120.00
Practicals (FT) 18.00
Tutorials (FT) 12.00
Assessment (FT) 20.00
Lectures (FT) 30.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 1 n/a 20.00 35% Case Study Learning Outcomes 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6
Coursework 2 n/a 20.00 35% Laboratory Exercise, Learning Outcomes 1, 4, 5 & 6
Exam (Exams Office) 2.00 60.00 35% Unseen written examination, choice of 3 questions from 5 (Learning Outcomes 1-6).